ALTON • The month-long mystery of a missing woman here was solved Friday with the discovery of her remains and the filing of murder charges against her live-in boyfriend and a close friend of his.
Officials said the body of Courtney C. Coats, 30, was cut up before being dumped in Greene County, Ill. She was reported missing Nov. 25 by people who said they last saw her Nov. 23.
Investigators said they believe she was strangled Nov. 23 and had her throat slit in a home in the 2500 block of College Avenue she shared with Patrick A. Chase, 28.
Chase and his friend, Brandon L. Chittum, 30, of Collinsville, were charged with first-degree murder, dismembering a human body and concealment of homicidal death. Each was held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Coats’ remains were found about 11 a.m. Friday near the east side of the Joe Page Bridge, which spans the Illinois River at Hardin, Ill., about 40 miles northwest of St. Louis.
Leads “including electronic communications associated with Miss Coats” helped lead detectives there, said Lt. Scott Golike, chief of detectives of the Alton police.
Asked if Coats was in the water or on the ground, Golike said, “Both.” Pressed for more, he explained, “Dismemberment pretty well describes what I meant. Out of respect for the family, I don’t want to go into detail.”
He noted that the crime was “brutal and heinous.”
Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons said that if Illinois still had a death penalty, he would ask for it in this case.
“We will seek a substantial amount of prison time, which we would expect would lead to a natural life sentence,” the prosecutor said. He noted that if the men are convicted of all the crimes, sentences for dismemberment and concealing a homicide would have to be served consecutively.
Officials would not comment on a motive or whether drugs were involved. There had been domestic violence associated with the couple, according to police, who would not elaborate. Coats did not have children.
Golike did suggest, “At the start of the day, I don’t think it was a planned act.”